Chances are that you got so intrigued by this headline and thought “REALLY?”.


And Now that I got your attention, let me confess. Sorry, I was kidding. It is NOT (dead).


And it’s a totally fake HEADLINE too. 83 percent of marketers? Seriously? Who counted? 😉 😉



Click baiting titles are around from the earliest day of Advertising. And they will be around for a long time to come. At the core, It’s psychology at play! It is NOT a new concept and certainly not invented by websites like Buzzfeed or Upworthy.


In fact, Tabloid journalism survives on clickbait headlines. Or for that matter, you need them almost everywhere. Be it a Power-point presentation, a sales pitch, or sending an outreach email – you need a powerful headline that actually works!


Call it click baiting or not, good headlines are able to draw our attention within the shortest time window.


After all, what is a headline but an attention-grabbing statement?


I spend far more time on headlines than on writing. I often spend hours on a single headline. Often scores of headlines are discarded before the right one is selected. ~ Legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins


The clickbait titles and headlines send our brains into a rollercoaster ride, teasing us to take the next step.


Here’s an example that will give you a bit more clarity.


When I recently wrote a newsletter about how brands tend to miss out on some simple yet very vital digital marketing strategies, it got a poor response. The opening rate was pretty low, which meant very few people cared to open the email.


My email subject line – These may be the reasons your marketing strategy is not working – didn’t work as much as I expected.


So I decided to re-work on it and wanted something that had a bit more curiosity, problems, and question elements in it. After coming up with a few potential headlines, this was what stuck with me.


Is Your Marketing Strategy Missing These Powerful Funnel Tactics?


Tom Fishburne marketing strategy cartoon
And boom. The open rate shot up by 2X.


Interestingly, the traffic to the website increased significantly too without changing a single word in the newsletter content.


Because the revised headline was not only able to whizz up the brain, it also set the expectations right. It was precisely positioned and had all the right emotional triggers. The art of writing good headlines also about knowing how to get inside your customers’ brains.


Better headlines translate to better success.


Yes, of course. People decide at a glance. They don’t read anything in detail unless your headlines seek their attention for a specific interest. Headlines make or break an AD, an article, or an email.


But, it will not be just to conclude this without mentioning one important disclaimer too.


Click baiting headlines work as long as the followed-by content is relevant for the people it is targeted for.



It is important to note that many copywriters, in order to craft a catchy headline, use some clever conceits that attract a very large number of people. That is good, right? Not always.


Headlines must reveal certain interests.  People are not going to read your stuff unless you make it worth their while and let the headline show it. Or else people you are after may never realize that the AD refers to something they may want!


I have often seen many tempting headlines falling flat after setting up a high expectation in the audience’s mind. As it happens a lot, the following content lacks any real value or has any relevance to the promise it makes in the headline.


And such mismatch leads to a significantly lower rate of conversion despite generating a shit load of traffic.


Last year, when I was looking for an apartment to buy for my brother-in-law, I came across an AD that said, “Research says 71% of first-time homebuyers end up spending more than they should!”.

Facebook AD first time home buyer - misleading headline example


My curiosity flared up and I ended up landing on an article to find out about the mistakes that home-buyers usually do, as claimed by the cited research. But that article hardly offered any real insights.


As I scanned through the article (yes, I still did; such was the residual power of that bold headline) to get ‘some’ meaningful information, I realized that the article was actually about something else. It’s all about a property that swore on transparent pricing, green development, ethical sourcing, etc. The content was sprinkled with links to a particular landing page that embedded an inquiry form in it.


For a matter of fact, the article was well-written though. It also presented the property’s unique selling points and the benefits it was offering very aptly. But for me it was not what I came for. Had it tried NOT to lure me with a misleading headline, I would have definitely made an inquiry for the property.


See how a perfectly crafted click-baiting headline screwed up the whole customer experience and thus leading to a miserable conversion rate?



How to master the art of writing clickbait headlines that generates tons of clicks?


A long time ago, one of my seniors joked that the trick is in the name itself. Copywriting. I got shocked as I heard him saying that the best writers are the best copiers.


It’s also called ‘getting inspired’. Like Shakespeare was inspired by Roman and Greek plays, Tagore drew inspiration from the Scottish bard Robert Burns, and Oscar Wilde, well almost, from everyone!


So, should you. Trust me. It works.


Well, it is not that you violate copyrights, or blatantly plagiarize someone else’s stuff. Figure out what is working for others and creatively adapt them to your writing.


Write. Write. And Write.


A friend once showed me his swipe file, where he curated hundreds of brilliant headlines from newspapers, blogs, ADs, newsletters, and many other sources. And he also wrote his own versions for each of those copies. That was his writing playbook.


By curating others’ works over the years and re-creating them in his own style, he became a master copywriter himself. It’s a simple formula, but you got to do a lot of hard work.


IS there a clickbait headline formula that works? Sadly, NOT really. There are many blogs/books that offer ready-made headline formulas, They are OK for a reference purpose, but you got to understand your customers/audience psyche.


What motivates them. What makes them happy. What are their pain-points?


Your headlines must include something that can heighten their sense of wanting, their desires.


PS: If you are interested to make a career in Digital marketing, we have a few classroom courses (and live online classes). Our four-month Integrated Digital Marketing Course offers 100% placement* for students.


Amitava Bhattacharya is the Co-founder of Succ33d Academy and UrsDigitally (ASSOCHAM Award-Winning Digital Agency). He also co-founded GoMoLo – a widely popular destination for Indian Movie Lovers (now closed). He is a veteran Marketer with 18+years of experience. He is now dedicated to training young minds in becoming savvy digital marketers.